Saturday, April 30, 2011


There was a GOP candidate forum in New Hampshire last night that was sponsored by Amercans for Prosperity (a Koch organization); the headline-grabbing moment was this: response to a question about high gas prices, [Mitt Romney] blurted out a Jimmy Carter-Barack Obama comparison about how just as Reagan had hung the "misery index" around Carter's neck, so, too, would Republicans have to "hang" Obama with the country's current economic hardship. Romney repeated the "we're going to hang him" locution once more and then, all of a sudden, in mid-sentence, seemed to realize that metaphors about hanging a black man probably wouldn't redound to his political benefit.

Ouch -- that's pretty bad. But I want to draw your attention to a bit more reporting on the forum, from the same story:

Herman Cain upstaged [Tim Pawlenty] by specifically calling to lower the corporate income tax, the personal income tax, temporarily abolish the payroll tax (individual and employer), abolish the capital gains tax, repatriate profits from overseas (abolishing any taxes on those profits), and, the coup de grace, declaring that all this would pay for itself by spurring economic growth.

Michelle Bachmann called for an immediate 25 percent cut in federal discretionary spending, the cancellation of outstanding stimulus projects, and the privatization of vaccine development (she cited polio as an example). The debt ceiling? Keep it right where it is. She joined Cain in calling for the abolition of the capital gains tax, the "death tax," proposed limiting income-tax rates to 20 percent, and then decided to scrap the federal tax code outright. "Let's get rid of what we've got and start over," she said.

Holy crap.

Any wonks out there? Anyone want to run some numbers to tell us what programs we'd have to cut, and by how much, to hit Bachmann's 25% target (which, I assume, exempts military spending)? Anyone want to calculate how much of a tax cut the average gazillionair would get from Cain's plan? Anyone want to calculate what this would actually due to the federal debt -- and to economic inequality in America?

And yet you know that this crazy talk from GOP upstarts is going to be hghly influential in the race. You know that the "serious" candidates -- Romney, Pawlenty, et al. -- will soon be offering laundry lists of Laffer-esque, pie-in-the-sky, allegedly self-sustaining tax cuts of their own, meeting Bachmann and Cain much more than halfway, rather than the other way around.

This is why I stick with the Democrats no matter how much they sell me out -- because no matter how fast they tack to the right, the Republicans just head in that direction even faster.

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